When Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal announced last week he would give away his entire $32-billion fortune to charity, he promised the money would go to deserving people and causes around the world.
But his first move since the announcement isn’t very far from home: The prince has vowed to give 10,000 homes and 10,000 cars to the needy of Saudi Arabia.
I'm donating : 10,000 houses 10,000 cars over 10 years benefiting 100,000 Saudis through @alwaleed_philan
— الوليد بن طلال (@Alwaleed_Talal) July 3, 2015
The move is meant to be "an expression of [the prince’s] gratitude to the Saudi nation and its people,” according to a statement from the prince quoted by Arabian Business.
Some would question whether Saudi Arabia is the neediest place out there for the prince’s charitable work. Thanks primarily to oil, Saudi Arabia’s per capita GDP — about $55,000 — is among the highest in the world, ranking in the top 10 or top 15 on most lists in recent years.
And in a 2013 study, Saudi Arabia was found to have the world’s 10th-lowest poverty rate, with 12.7 per cent of the population below the poverty line. (Canada’s poverty rate was 9.4 per cent in the study.)
But the Alwaleed Foundation, the charitable group tasked with dispensing the prince’s fortune, says home affordability and transportation costs have become a problem for many Saudi families.
“It has become a big burden weighing on the family’s budget, especially given that Saudi families are mostly young, small and with very limited means,” the Saudi Gazette reports.
The foundation projects that the two separate initiatives — one to donate 10,000 houses, the other to donate 10,000 cars — will help 100,000 Saudis over 10 years.
Prince Alwaleed announced last week he would donate all of his $32-billion fortune to charity, saying it would help “Muslim and non-Muslim” nations alike. The charitable funds are meant to help disaster relief efforts, health and medical programs, construction of orphanages and promotion of women’s causes.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which is updated almost daily, lists the prince as the 21st-richest person in the world as of July 2, 2015. The prince runs Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), which has investments in Citigroup, Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp. and Twitter.
In Canada, KHC owns stakes in the Fairmont and Four Seasons hotel chains.
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